FIONA O’LOUGHLIN – THE DIVINE MISS O
JOEL CREASEY – NAKED
I spoke to Joel and Fiona separately but as sort of a pair, because young Joel is the producer of Fiona’s new show, and as a team they’ve put something very different together for Fiona’s fans, while Joel has also written his own solo show. Because some of the questions were the same to both, I’ve aggregated the interviews where appropriate even though they took place several days apart.
GFI: So how did it come about that Joel is producing Fiona’s show this year?
Fiona: Last year I did a lot of touring with Josh and found that we had so much in common, a really similar sense of humour, so one day I asked him whether maybe I was really a young gay guy in a middle-aged woman’s body and perhaps deep down inside there was a gay diva just waiting to burst out? Joel poured a bit of cold water on that, telling me that I couldn’t just foist myself on the community as a diva, that I had to wait to be acclaimed! So then we started talking about the women who have become huge gay icons over the years, being silly with it all, and out of all that mucking around came the seeds of this show celebrating the strength of some gloriously bawdy women.
GFI: Apart from the idea being fun and different, what else appealed to you about such a departure from your usual straight stand-up?
Fiona: I wanted to get away from the heaviness of my last few shows, where I’ve opened up about my demons and darkness, I wanted to stop pointing the gun at my own head with all the deeply personal stories – I wanted to do something that was lighter and full of silliness and over-the-top moments and less just all about me. It’s been useful to work through that, but it’s time for a break!
Joel: I just love Fiona and think she’s absolutely marvellous, and producing this show has been a dream come true. I’ve been mentally putting a diva tribute show like this together since I was in primary school, so I’m just so excited and proud.
GFI: So how has the show been received by fans? I know there have been some mixed reviews, but what about the actual audiences?
Fiona: One of those reviews broke my heart, and I know I shouldn’t read them but I can’t help myself, and what I hated most was how it sounded as though he thought I was letting my audience down. Sure, it wasn’t that reviewer’s cup of tea and that happens, whatever: but I know when an audience is with me and enjoying my show, and that night was a really great crowd having a great time! There were some other reviews which were very positive, even a 4 stars which they said would have been 5 if there hadn’t been a few technical difficulties on the night. That one particularly helped me deal with the other one.
GFI: Managing audience expectations after a very visible career with such a distinctive performing style must have been in your mind though.
Fiona: oh yes, of course, and I still tell stories from my life because that’s just what I do, but I’m also telling some different sorts of stories about why I love these women and kicking up my heels and singing my guts out as well.
GFI: what happens for you after the Sydney Comedy Festival?
Fiona: I’m off to the Perth Comedy Festival but I’m not going overseas this year, which I usually do go to Edinburgh and Montreal. Perth will be wonderful as usual, it’s a real comedy town, look at the talent it produces! But I’m not ready to put this show back on the shelf after June though, because Sydney and Perth will be so much fun, so I’m looking at ways to do some more performances later in the year maybe. Come back and show it to the rest of Sydney perhaps?
GFI: Joel, do you think Sydney knows you a little better now than the last time you came?
Joel: They seem to, I’m getting lots of buzz back from my relentless tweets anyway.
GFI: And the posters? Getting some buzz back from those?
Joel: Because I’m showing a lot of skin? I was expecting more propositions, frankly.
GFI: So what can audiences expect from your show?
Joel: Not as much skin as they might expect from the poster, but I’m talking about dealing with fears and secrets and oddities and quirks and generally just getting over ourselves and making the world a better place through fabulousness.
GFI: I know you’re heading off to the Perth festival after the Sydney festival as well, are you looking forward to the hometown audiences?
Joel: It’s always a blast going home, it’s wonderful that they want me to keep on coming back! Then I’m going on the Melbourne Comedy Festival Roadshow around the Northern Territory and WA and a few other places, which is always a great time with audiences who are just so keen to see us and getting to hang around in the tour van with the other comics and just talk and laugh and talk.
GFI: What other festival shows have you seen and would recommend to others this year?
Joel: I haven’t seen as many as I would like, but Michael Workman’s show is really great, and of course Fiona’s show is absolutely brilliant! I love her!